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Fossil fuel use, emissions hit records in 2023, report says

Published 06/19/2024, 07:09 PM
Updated 06/20/2024, 12:16 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Drilling rigs operate at sunset in Midland, Texas, U.S., February 13, 2019. Picture taken February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

By Robert Harvey

LONDON (Reuters) - Global fossil fuel consumption and energy emissions hit all-time highs in 2023, even as fossil fuels' share of the global energy mix decreased slightly on the year, the industry's Statistical Review of World Energy report said on Thursday.

Growing demand for fossil fuel despite the scaling up of renewables could be a sticking point for the transition to lower carbon energy as global temperature increases reach 1.5C (2.7F), the threshold beyond which scientists say impacts such as temperature rise, drought and flooding will become more extreme.

"We hope that this report will help governments, world leaders and analysts move forward, clear-eyed about the challenge that lies ahead," Romain Debarre of consultancy Kearney said.

Last year was the first full year of rerouted Russian energy flows away from the West following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and also the first full year without major movement restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall global primary energy consumption hit an all-time high of 620 Exajoules (EJ), the report said, as emissions exceeded 40 gigatonnes of CO2 for the first time.

"In a year where we have seen the contribution of renewables reaching a new record high, ever increasing global energy demand means the share coming from fossil fuels has remained virtually unchanged," Simon Virley of consultancy KPMG said.

The report recorded shifting trends in fossil fuel use in different regions. In Europe, for example, the fossil fuel share of energy fell below 70% for the first time since the industrial revolution.

"In advanced economies, we observe signs of demand for fossil fuels peaking, contrasting with economies in the Global South for whom economic development and improvements in quality of life continue to drive fossil growth," Energy Institute Chief Executive Nick Wayth said.

Industry body the Energy Institute, together with consultancies KPMG and Kearney, has published the annual report since 2023. They took over from BP (NYSE:BP) last year, which had authored the report, a benchmark for energy professionals, since the 1950s.

Fossil fuel accounted for almost all demand growth in India in 2023, the report said, while in China fossil fuel use rose 6% to a new high.

But China also accounted for over half of global additions in renewable energy generation last year.

“China adding more renewables than the rest of the world put together is remarkable," KPMG's Virley told reporters.

Here are some highlights from the report on 2023:

CONSUMPTION * Global primary energy demand rose by 2% in 2023 from 2022,to 620 EJ. * Fossil fuel use rose 1.5% to 505 EJ, which accounted for81.5% of the overall energy mix, down by 0.5% from 2022. * Fossil fuel use did not increase in a single Europeancountry in 2023. * Electricity generation rose by 2.5% in 2023, up slightlyfrom 2.3% of growth the previous year. * Renewable fuel generation (excluding hydro) gained 13% toa new record high of 4,748 terawatt-hours (TWh). * Renewables' share of the overall energy mix excludinghydro was 8%, up from 7.5% in the 2022 report. * Including hydro renewables accounted for 15% of the globalmix.

OIL * Oil consumption exceeded 100 million bpd in 2023 for thefirst time ever, following a 2% year-on-year rise. * Oil supply growth was met by non-OPEC+ producers, withU.S. output gaining 9% on the year. * China overtook the U.S. as the country with the largestrefining capacity in the world last year at 18.5 million bpd,though refining volumes still lagged behind at 82% utilisationvs the U.S.' 87%. * Global gasoline consumption hit 25 million bpd last year,just above its 2019 pre-pandemic level. * Biofuels production increased by 8% to 2.1 million bpd in2023, driven by gains in the U.S. and Brazil. * The U.S., Brazil, and Europe accounted for 80% of globalbiofuels consumption.

NATURAL GAS * Global gas production and consumption remained relativelyflat on the year in 2023. * LNG supply rose by almost 2% to 549 billion cubic metres(bcm). * The U.S. overtook Qatar as the leading global supplier ofLNG after a 10% rise in production. * Overall European gas demand was down 7% on the year in2023. * Russia's share of European gas supply was just 15% in2023, from 45% in 2021.

COAL * Coal consumption hit a new high of 164 EJ in 2023, up 1.6%on the year, driven by China and India. * India's coal consumption exceeded that of Europe and NorthAmerica combined. * U.S. coal consumption fell by 17% in 2023 and has halvedin the last decade.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Drilling rigs operate at sunset in Midland, Texas, U.S., February 13, 2019. Picture taken February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

RENEWABLES * The record high in renewable generation was driven byhigher wind and solar capacity, with 67% more additions in thosetwo categories in 2023 than 2022. * As much as 74% of net growth in overall power generationcame from renewables. * China accounted for 55% of all renewable generationadditions in 2023, and was responsible for 63% of new globalwind and solar capacity.

EMISSIONS * Emissions grew by 2% on the year to exceed 40 gigatonnes. * Emissions rose despite the slight drop in fossil fuels'share of the energy mix, because emissions within the fossilfuels category became more intense as oil and coal use rose andgas held steady. * The report notes that since 2000, emissions from energyhave increased by 50%.

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